During the divorce process it can be very difficult to help children understand what is going on. At the time the best thing you can do is to explain the situation in an age-appropriate manner and reassure them that both parents still love them and will support them.
How old your children are will determine how much of the situation they understand. However, even if your children are in their late teens and come across as adults in many situations they will not fully be able to comprehend what has happened and why. You may also want to hide a lot of details from them in order to protect the relationship they have with their other parent and relatives.
However, they will remember a lot of details throughout their lives and there may come a point in the future when you can explain the full situation in an adult-to-adult conversation which will allow you to unload any lasting feelings of guilt and give your children an end to feelings of confusion.
This conversation may come at a time when your children are going through their own rough patches in a marriage, or even facing a divorce, or it may come about at a family event or when relationships between family members have developed onto an equal footing.
You don’t know what the future will bring, but you may want to hang on to some of the paperwork, messages, photos etc that lead you to your divorce so years down the line you can have an honest conversation based on facts and experiences that your children will benefit from.
For example, you may have had an angry outburst at a friend or relative of your ex in front of your children that you regret and that you know will stay in your children’s memory. The reasons for the outburst may be completely justified, after you have read some emails, or messages, but you can’t explain this to your children. Hanging on to those messages may enable you to discuss them when your children are at an age to understand that parents are only human and they have the maturity to not take sides and damage their own relationships with those involved.
Your children may one day ask you for all the details of your divorce when they are in a position to digest it as an adult. Although keeping a lot of the information or any diaries may seem like an unhealthy thing to do, it could be useful for your children in the future.
People often hang onto childhood experiences well into adulthood and they may not even realise it. Being able to explain to adult children about your divorce openly and honestly may greatly improve your relationship and help them through their own difficult time.